December 30, 2011

The last business day of 2011

I thought I'd do a 'year in review' type blog entry.

This last year has been an interesting one to say the least.

I woke up on January 1st last year and immediately went into a depression. This thought stayed forefront in my mind: "This is the year I turn 50!" And I let it really bother me. I thought it really showed at times in my attitude and confidence. But I also grew in my confidence too. I learn a lot about myself. By the time Jimmas (my birthday) rolled around in late August I had come to accept myself more and more. And finally in October I got this "fuck it" attitude about growing older. It's better to just accept myself and go on with life.

Work was work. It's not something I love, but I don't hate it either. I like most of my coworkers and try as best as I can to ignore the ones I don't.

This year has had it's ups and downs with friends too. Some friendships grew in unimaginable ways and others withered away. I think I really learned the value of people and who I called a friend. A real friend isn't someone that is on a social networking site with 10 friends in common. A friend is someone who loves you as you are and knows when to look the other way too. I can honestly say that I love my friends and they tell me the same often too.

It was nice seeing some of my family in Utah this last summer... but I doubt I'll ever go back. It feels like a world away from where I am in my life now.

This last year makes me think of this old song:
Who knows what tomorrow brings
In a world where few hearts survive
All I know is the way I feel
When it's real
I keep it alive
The road is long
There are mountains in the way
But we climb a step every day...

Good bye 2011.

December 28, 2011

Happy 4th day of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days representing seven principles of tradition and reason. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles:

Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves stand up.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Happy Kwanzaa to all my friends and readers who celebrate this holiday.

December 27, 2011

Tat stuff

The tat is healing nicely.

Here is the background story on it: It is a pentagram, one of the symbols of Pagans. It represents the elements of fire, water, air, earth and spirit. I knew I wanted this as a tat and finally found a picture I liked.

Then finally decided where on me to put it. My second choice was on my left calf, but then I thought it would scare the christians when I wore shorts during the 9 months of the year in Texas. Well, it might not scare them as much as they'd make snap judgements that I was satanic or something.

So I decided on my shoulder although it's not a place convenient to take good pictures of. I felt like a contortionist getting this picture.

December 26, 2011

Happy Boxing Day

Ever since I lived in a British Commonwealth country I have celebrated Boxing Day. I find it an interesting holiday. I believe it was meant as a day of charity by the upper classes of society to box up their old stuff or give gifts to their staff for all their work during the holidays.

Some may think it was the day that women boxed us the gifts they received to trek back to the stores for returns, exchanges and sales, while the men watched boxing matches.

Whatever the true origins of the holiday are I think it's kinda weird that it hasn't caught on in the United States. I think it would be a good day for charity work or to give donations to charities.

This would be far better than what seems to be the American tradition. It seems to me like the day after christmas is the day one brags to your friends about what you got! Wouldn't it be more fitting to talk about that you gave? And then show true compassion and charity by giving to others who are in need.

[Major bank] is giving us today off! YAY!
But I feel like I'm coming down with a cold. EW!

Well... Happy Boxing Day y'all!

December 25, 2011

Thoughts about Christmas

To all my christian friends and readers
and those that celebrate today in a secular way:

Merry Christmas!

As a coworker and I were leaving work on Friday we were talking about this holiday. He is a devout Christian who knows that I am a devout Pagan.

Here's how the conversation went:
Coworker (CW): Jim... I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas.
Me: CW... I want to wish you a Happy Hanukkah. Are you lighting the 4th candle in your menorah tonight?
CW: What? I don't celebrate Hanukkah.
Me: Then why are you wishing me a merry christmas? CW, I know you celebrate christmas, so I'll wish you a merry christmas. You could have respected me and wished me a merry yule on Thursday.
CW: Jim... I know that deep down inside you still believe. I'm sorry that someone hurt you in your past, but I know you still believe, deep down.
Me: CW, you're about the tenth person to tell me that and I'll tell you the same thing I told the other nine. No! I have different beliefs than you. Please respect them. You know we have quite a large number of Jewish clients at [major bank] I hope you're not telling any of them merry christmas!!
CW: No... that would be disrespectful!
Me: [silence] (waiting for his words to sink in to his mind)

Last night I ran into some other friends. We talked about our beliefs and I realized that this is the first year that I haven't hated christmas! It really is just another day to me. I don't love it, I don't hate it. It's just a holiday celebrated by people of a different religion than me. To me... it's just December 25, 2011.

December 24, 2011

Holiday candles

It's weird....
I lit all these candles at the same time.
Yet they all burned very differently.
I guess it was according to the drafts in my room
Or the blast of the furnace heating the room.
I never realized that certain areas were affected more then others.
Even by a few inches.

December 23, 2011

I got poked!


And I liked it...

I wish Erik could have poked me... But he lives too damn far away. He'll get to poke me the next time.

By the way...

This is my 3rd tattoo I've gotten on Yule.

This kinda sounds like a tradition now...

December 22, 2011

Merry Yule and Happy Winter Solstice

To all my Pagan and Wiccan friends and readers... and for me!
Merry Yule!

This year has seemed a bit different. The Solstice usually falls on December 21st. But it can fall on any date between the 19th and the 22nd. This year is one of those years. I had numerous friends that celebrated the holiday yesterday, on the date specific day: December 21st. But does it really matter?

Yesterday I stopped by my friend's wine shop; Two Corks & a Bottle, for a quick drink and we got to talking about the holidays. John asked me how I celebrate Yule. I responded by telling him the meaning of the solstice and the beginning of the days getting longer and how for the ancient peoples in the far northern hemisphere it really is the "rebirth of the sun". It is about celebrating the darkness and being grateful for your stores of food that you would plant and harvest the rest of the year. So, keeping those things in mind I celebrate with candles and with evergreens, holly and ivy and things that keep living through the winter. I enjoy and share my food and drink with friends and loved ones.

I will burn a Yule log and burn and with it all the negativity from the past year. I will think on and wish for the things I would like in the coming year.

On my drive home the NPR station had on a Hanukkah story feature. Stories and memories of traditions and how people share and celebrate this holiday. I thought this was very interesting.

So to all of my friends; however you celebrate; whatever day you celebrate.... I wish you the happiness and love that you deserve.

December 21, 2011

Twas the night before Yule (a repost)

A Nordic Yule

'Twas the night before Yuletide in the Horde's hall
Not a person was stirring, not even a thrall.
The wineskins were hung on the mantle with care
In hope that great Odin soon would be there.

The clansmen were snoring, passed out on the floor.
And I made to join them. I couldn't drink more.
I found a place quickly, my furs for a bed.
The mead I had drunk had gone to my head.

Then came a noise from way out in back.
So loud that I swore, we were under attack!
I leapt from my furs, my sword clutched in hand,
And went to the window to survey the land.

I looked into the night and muttered a curse,
Could it be Grendel or something much worse?
Then what to my eyes should the full moon reveal,
But an old fashioned sleigh drawn by a creature unreal.

And a huge burly driver so fierce and forbodin',
I knew in a moment it was Allfather Odin.
He yelled at the creature with a snarl on his lips,
And after each word, gave a crack of his whip.

"Obey me now, Sleipner, for I am your master,
An eight-legged horse ought to run faster!?"
I ran from the window, so quick and so able
And sought a safe haven under the table.

I heard the sleigh stop and Odin get out
And as he drew nearer, gave a great shout.
He kicked the door open, which then hung askew
And I shook when I saw him, what else could I do?

He was dressed in his armor, so regal and fine
But I caught a strong odor of cheap women and wine.
His bundle of weapons he dropped where he stood,
All bright gleaming steel and dark polished wood.

His face was like granite with a long flowing beard
His one eye glowing like an ember, or so it appeared.
I watched him quite closely alone with my fear
As he surveyed the hall with a glare and a sneer.

He cursed and he muttered and seemed to grow madder
And I fought to keep some control of my bladder.
He lifted his foot and pulled a nail from beneath
Then seemed to grow calmer. I sighed with relief.

He then went to work, his task to assail
And filled all the wineskins with mead and stout ale.
Then using his finger to scratch at his crotch
He strode from the hall as I silently watched.

He mounted his sleigh and his whip gave a crack
As Sleipner jumped forward, he laughed and leaned back.
He said as he rode, "Fight hard and die well.
And when that day comes, in Valhalla you'll dwell!"

© 2002 Michael G. Tucker
This was written by a friend of mine and I think it's fantastic! Kudos Mike!!

December 20, 2011

A lichtigin Chanukah

Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish readers and friends!

December 18, 2011

Another repost - Life Lessons

At this time of year I think we need to stop and take a moment in our busy lives to ponder what truly matters in life. Here is a favorite quote from an old favorite book:

Mortal Lessons
Notes on the Art of Surgery
by Richard Selzer

"I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.

Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry-mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily? The young woman speaks.

"Will my mouth always be like this?" she asks.

"Yes," I say, "it will. It is because the nerve was cut."

She nods, and is silent. But the young man smiles.

"I like it," he says. "It is kind of cute."

All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works. I remember that the gods appeared in ancient Greece as mortals, and I hold my breath and let the wonder in."

Don't live your life expecting miracles. Do something miraculous.

December 17, 2011

Unusual conversations in unususal places

Last night was the work party/white elephant gift exchange. I got the least lame gift there and the person who got my Christmas Cds liked them. All good!

The night began at 5:30PM and ended after 1AM, at a 3rd bar, with me two-stepping with a coworker's boyfriend (straight couple) at the Roundup. Fun night!

This reminded me of other happy hours with coworkers that have turned out in an all night adventure. On one such night back in 2008 at 1AM I found myself dancing with my coworker Kim in a little dive bar in the lower Greenville area of Dallas. We were dancing fools, the only ones on the dance floor and having fun.

As I excused myself to go to the restroom a guy followed me in, stood next to me at the urinal and started the following conversation:

GUY: Hey, how's it's going?
ME: Good! How about you?
GUY: Great... my girlfriend and I have really enjoyed watching you and your girlfriend dance.
ME: Um... yea, we like to cut loose and have fun.
GUY: We really think your girlfriend is cute.
ME: She is cute. And she's only a coworker.
GUY: Oh! Good.
ME: OK..... Um... Are y'all having fun?
GUY: Yes! We'd love to have fun with your friend too. Let her know to come talk to us if she's interested.
ME: ..... Um.... OK... I'll pass that on to her..... OK, I'm done.... Nice to meet you. Bye.

I wash my hands, leave and Kim drags me back onto the dance floor. I tell Kim of the unusual urinal conversation. We had a good laugh. Kept dancing. Finally left the dive bar about a half hour later.

Aw... good times, good times.

December 14, 2011

December 12, 2011

Random stuff

I counted my library of books yesterday. Total count: 234
I have no idea why I counted them.

I was cranky at work today.
I don't know why... I had a good night of rest.

I had a "sleep over" on Saturday night.
Someone I've been chatting with on an "adult" site.
I don't know why... he's 27 and shaves his chest hairs.

For the last work holiday party this year we are having a "white elephant" gift exchange.
I'm giving away all my old Christmas CDs. I hate Christmas music.
That's a good gift, isn't it?

I started a new book yesterday.
I kinda hate it already. I'm not sure how much longer I can read it.
Probably because I have read some really great books lately and I'm spoiled.

Today is one of those double digit days: 12/12.
For some reason I think this is cool.

Oh... I just found some more Christmas stuff I can give away at the "white elephant" party! YAY!
Am I weird or what?

December 11, 2011

Where is my torch and pitchfork?

My friend sent me this picture. It made me LOL!

December 10, 2011

Pet Peeve #3

Homonervous men!

You know who they are. They're not homophobic and they're OK with gay people but just nervous around them. Hence the new word: homonervous.

We've all seen them in the gym. They are the guys who after showering will keep their towel closely wrapped around them. When they get dressed they put their underwear on over the wet towel and then pull the towel out so that they never have to be naked. They've got it down to a science when undressing. They leave the shirt on and in one quick motion remove their boxers and slip on the briefs or gym shorts. Then quickly glance around to see if anyone saw it. Some day I would love to laugh out loud and point, then shout: "Oh my god! I saw it!"

The homonervous men are at work too. We have a restroom at the office with 2 urinals with the partition between them. The homonervous man will not even stand next to another guy who is standing there, they'd rather go into a stall and splatter on the toilet seat.

These guys sometimes won't even speak to you outside of the office space. They think that if they're being friendly a gay guy will think they're coming on to them. I'm not sure if it's an ego thing, like they think that everyone would be attracted to them.

Just get over yourselves guys!

December 9, 2011

Just stuff...

Oh. My. Gawd!

The last couple of days have been busy with stuff.

My coworker (teammate) came back from 10 days of vacation. She had over 3000 emails. She's been pretty useless. That's OK, I have been in 'robo' mode. (meaning I get everything done, but no socializing with anyone).

Monday and Tuesday I was feeling puny so I skipped the gym to go home and get some rest. Then Wednesday and Thursday evenings were filled with various work group holiday parties. Tonight is my only free evening as another holiday party is set for Saturday night. UGH!

This is not fun for me. I sometimes tell people "thanks, but I don't really celebrate Christmas". And sometimes I just give a wry smile and let it go... it would be too much effort to try to explain.

December 6, 2011

Fireplace and warm thoughts

As I was warming my feet by the fire again last night my thoughts drifted back to my childhood.

We didn't have a fireplace in our home while I was growing up, but it's something that mom always wanted. We would come home on a cold winter evening and dad would turn up the thermostat to warm the house. We had a coal burning furnace with small floor vents in each room. I remember I used to lay on the floor with my feet right against the vent trying to get myself warmed up (see, I've always hated the cold). My older brothers would try to jostle me out of the way. But eventually we would work it out and my toes would warm up.

Helping dad shove the pickup bed full of coal into the coal bin at the back of the house became a ritual that spoke on the coming of winter. I eventually didn't mind helping with the shoveling as I knew it would bring warmth later. But I and my mother always held a fireplace dream near to our hearts.

Only one or two of the houses I've lived in had a fireplace but I really don't ever remember lighting it and then sitting by the fire sipping wine or hot cocoa. It was one of the things that sold me on the condo and home where I live now. I don't mind the winter winds blowing outside so much anymore. I love to watch the flames dance and I love watching the fire die down into glowing hot embers. I'll throw another log on and watch the flames lick up the side of it and then consume it. I'm often holding a drink while gazing into the fire while I feel the warmth of the fire on my fingers and face. I still sit really close to warm my toes.

December 5, 2011

5 on the 5th

A fun blog challenge created by Steven Chapman:
"Take 5 photographs on the days leading up to the 5th and publish those on your own blog and then add the link to my blog, State of the Nation UK so that others can see your images. "

This month's theme: Winter Weekend

What does one do on a winter weekend when you see a storm coming in on Friday evening?

You move the plants by the front door out to where they can get some rain.

You eventually venture out to do some errands and shopping.

You get your new favorite cider.

Awww.... This is the best part of a winter weekend!

December 4, 2011

True Blood addict

OK... I may be a little behind the times on this. But I don't have cable TV so there is a lot I miss, don't judge!

My friends at Thanksgiving were telling me about the show and they loaned me the first season of True Blood on DVD. I've been watching it this week.


I love it!

Why didn't someone mention this to me years ago?

Or was I just not paying attention?

December 2, 2011

December Tarot

The Lovers

The Lovers card can indicate a very strong sexual connection. (DUH... look at the picture)

But also a connection that goes beyond instant gratification and lust to a very deep desire and passion; one of full commitment and harmony. The Lovers trust in one another gives them strength and confidence to overcome the obstacles in life.

December should be a steamy and passionate month for me! YOWZA!

December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day

Let's keep fighting to maintain funding for research.

Let's keep hoping for a cure!

Protect yourself and educate others.

Let's continue to love and care for those those living with AIDS.

Today we remember our friends and loved ones that have passed away from this terrible disease.

I honor and remember my first partner who passed away from AIDS on December 9, 1986, and countless other friends through the years.